BULLETIN

Bulletin No:       187                 Volume:  22                        Thursday 24 November 2016

 

To: ALL UFU MEMBERS

 

VICTORIAN GOVERNMENTS RESPONSE TO THE PARLIAMENTARY INQUIRY INTO FISKVILLE RELEASED TODAY

 The Victorian Government has today released their response to the Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development Committee Inquiry into the CFA Training College at Fiskville.

The document outlines the actions that are being taken in response to the Fiskville report and is available online here.

The Fiskville inquiry commenced in December 2015 and the final report (available here) was handed down on the 24th of May this year.

The UFU is pleased with the content of the document released today which shows that the Government either ‘Supports’, ‘Supports in part’ or ‘Supports in principle’ all 31 recommendations from the Fiskville Inquiry Report and outlines the actions which are being undertaken in relation to them.

UFU members should be proud of their efforts in achieving this result.

UFU members submitted around 450 individual witness statements to the body of evidence for the inquiry and many members have given evidence in person before the committee. The UFU would like to once again thank those members who contributed to the inquiry as well as all members who attending the hearings.

Todays announcement shows that real steps are being made to support the victims of Fiskville and to ensure that something similar cannot happen again.

A summary of the recommendations and the Governments Response is listed below:

 

Recommendation Response
The Inquiry Process
1.   That the Victorian Government, in responding to this Final Report:

(a)  Provide an update on Departmental and agency compliance with the directive from the Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet (as set out in the Government’s response to the Interim Report) to provide individuals with access to records and documents relating to their involvement at Fiskville.

Support
(b) Provide an assessment of the CFA’s compliance with the Model Litigant Guidelines when people seek access to documents, and Support in part
(c) Provide an assessment of the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office’s compliance with both the Secretary’s directive and the Model Litigant Guidelines. Support in part
2. That the Victorian Government amend the Model Litigant Guidelines on the State of Victoria’s Obligation to Act as a Model Litigant so that the Guidelines extend to the conduct of Departments, agencies and their legal representatives’ dealings with Parliamentary Committees, particularly when conducting a document discovery process. Support in part noting recommendation 3 is a more appropriate avenue to address this recommendation
3. That the Department of Premier and Cabinet amend the Guidelines for Appearing Before State Parliamentary Committees so that they contain some standards for conduct when a Parliamentary Committee requests information and documents. The standards should reflect relevant principles contained in the Model Litigant Guidelines. Support
Activities and Contamination at the Site
4. That the Victorian Government offer all students and teachers who attended Fiskville State School the opportunity to participate in a health study on the effects of contamination at Fiskville. Support
5. That the Victorian Government review appropriate sanctions for entities that do not keep records demonstrating compliance with regulatory requirements. Support in principle
6. That the Victorian Government introduce potable water as standard for firefighting training water to be complied with at all firefighting training facilities. Support
7. That EPA Victoria conduct regular environmental testing of firefighting training facilities across Victoria ensuring records are properly maintained for future use. Support in principle
8. That the Victorian Government audit all CFA training facilities to assess their capacities, capabilities and infrastructure needs to ensure a safe workplace that meets firefighter training demand. Support
Recommendation Response
CFA Culture and Health and Safety
9. That the CFA contact the driver who was exposed to chemicals in the early 2002 drums incident, ascertain his current state of health and offer him the opportunity to participate in its health surveillance program. Support
10.     That the Victorian Government conduct an audit of CFA occupational health policies – both those by the CFA Board and those recommended by external reviews – to determine if they have been implemented effectively throughout the organisation. Support in principle
11.     That the CFA review its occupational health and safety management structure. Support
12.     That the Emergency Management Victoria Inspectorate be given responsibility for overseeing compliance with occupational health and safety requirements at CFA training facilities. Support
13.       That the Victorian Government amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 to require WorkSafe to include in its annual report under section 131(6):

(a)  The number of cases in which WorkSafe fails to meet the three-month time limit in section 131(2)

(b)  In each such case, the time the investigation has taken and the reason why WorkSafe was unable to meet the deadline

In addition, WorkSafe should be required to report to the responsible Minister in each case it fails to meet the deadline imposed by section 131(2). A copy of the report should be provided to the applicant.

Support in principle
14.     That whenever feasible, WorkSafe should reduce its reliance on reports by consultants engaged by employers it is investigating and should utilise its statutory powers to conduct its own tests where relevant. Support in principle
15.     That the Victorian Government examine laws in the United States of America and elsewhere requiring companies to provide regulatory agencies with any internal studies that produce results of concern for public health, with a view to amending Victorian law to impose similar reporting requirements. Support
Regulation of Fiskville by Other Regulatory Agencies
16.     That the Victorian Government confirm that EPA Victoria currently has powers under its Act to take pre-emptive action to prevent pollution. Support in principle
17.     The Committee re-affirms its view that the Victorian Government ensure a resolution to the Lloyds’ case forthwith. Support
18.     That the Victorian Government investigate the development of a Maximum Residue Limit for PFOS and other PFCs. Support
Recommendation Response
19.     That the Victorian Government establish a framework to ensure that the management of a contaminated site such as Fiskville has the necessary leadership to ensure that the polluter and regulators are responsive, meeting legislative requirements and timelines, and taking the required steps to consult with affected individuals, assess the contamination and implement a timely remediation plan. Support
20.     That Emergency Management Victoria urgently publish the remaining two parts of the operational standards required under section 48 of the Emergency Management Act 2013. Support
The Consequences-Human Health
21.     That the Victorian Government lead Government action to support the expeditious ratifying of changes made to Appendix B of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. Support in principle
22.     That the Victorian Government implement a strategy for ensuring that all relevant regulatory agencies are kept up to date on the latest scientific evidence relating to the risks associated with exposure to hazardous materials and chemicals. Support in principle
23.     That the Victorian Government take a lead role in identifying safe levels of PFCs for water and soil in Australia. Support in principle
24.     That the Victorian Government investigate the use of biomonitoring to assist with research into the health effects of exposure to PFCs. The PFC testing that has already been done at Fiskville could inform a new biomonitoring program. Support in principle
25.     That the Victorian Government take the lead at the COAG Health Council in recommending a greater use of human biomonitoring across Australia. Support in principle
26.     That the Victorian Government invite the German Environment Agency to brief Victorian health and environment regulators about the latest evidence regarding PFCs and human health. Support in principle
27.     That the Victorian Government monitor PFC levels in all firefighters in Victoria accompanied by appropriate health advice and current research. Support in principle
28.     That the Victorian Government as a matter of urgency purchase a new site in the Ballan area for construction of a new firefighting training centre, managed by the CFA, with occupational health and safety compliance managed by the Emergency Management Victoria Inspectorate (in accordance with Recommendation 12 in Chapter 5). Support
29.     That, in recognition of the closure of the Fiskville site and the need for a new ‘spiritual home’ for the CFA, the Victorian Government in consultation with CFA members fund the relocation of the firefighters’ Memorial Wall at a suitable and easily accessible location. Support

 

Recommendation Response
30.     That the Victorian Government update the proclaimed disease schedule in light of changes in disease schedules that have been made in other jurisdictions. Support in principle
31.       That the Victorian Government establish a dedicated redress scheme for Fiskville-affected persons and ensure:

(a)  That a register of Fiskville-affected persons is created

(b)  That the scheme is developed in consultation with Fiskville-affected persons

(c)   That a timeline for implementation is developed

(d)  That there is broad eligibility including people from neighbouring properties and other nearby sites

(e)  That there is a low evidentiary requirement so that it is not onerous for people to access, reflecting the fact that supporting records may be difficult for some people to produce

(f)    That a range of redress options exist, such as access to health services, a financial payment, and / or a meaningful apology

(g)  That there is robust administration of the scheme independent of the CFA

(h)  (h) That the CFA’s required operational capacity is not affected by any redress scheme.

Support in principle.

 

Members can visit the campaign website at www.justiceforfiskville.com.au and those who have attended the Fiskville training college are strongly urged to sign the ‘Victims of Fiskville’ register.

 

Strength in Unity

READ OUT AT MUSTER AND PIN ON NOTICE BOARD

Authorised by Peter Marshall, Branch Secretary